Arc Inspirations set for major expansion after £19m investment

13 April 2022 by
Arc Inspirations set for major expansion after £19m investment

Bar operator Arc Inspirations is set to double its footprint after securing a £19m investment from BGF for a minority stake in the Martin Wolstencroft-led business.

The business is looking to open multiple bar sites in major UK cities, deploying its ‘cluster' strategy.

The announcement marks a new phase for the business, ahead of an accelerated rollout of its three brands: Banyan Bar & Kitchen, BOX and Manahatta. The investment will support the company's ambition to double the business from 18 venues, delivering at least four new site openings per year over the next three to five years.

Wolstencroft said: "We're absolutely delighted to have secured this investment from BGF who are committed investors with a track record of supporting growth and success in the hospitality and leisure sector.

"This funding will enable us to expand our business significantly, allowing us to take advantage of substantial market opportunities over the next few years, as we take our winning brands to more key cities across the UK."

It is the first time Arc has introduced external investment to the group. Its expansion to date – since Wolstencroft and co-founder Chris Ure launched the business in 1999 – has been funded by the business and more recently through a renewed partnership with HSBC.

Wolstencroft, Ure and managing director Anni Opong will remain significant shareholders in the business. In addition, non-executive director Steve Richards, chief executive of Parkdean Resorts and chairman of UKHospitality, will continue supporting the executive leadership team as non-executive chair.

Arc Inspirations recently posted record annual sales of more than £40m, and last autumn opened two new venues, Manahatta Birmingham (pictured) and BOX Deansgate in Manchester.

Barry Jackson, head of BGF in Yorkshire and the North-East, said: "Arc Inspirations is an ambitious business with proven concepts and sights set on expansion across the UK regions.

"We have experience of successfully supporting similar businesses on this journey. Arc has already achieved an impressive scale and we look forward to working with Martin, Chris and the team to deliver against the plan to take the business to the next level."

Arc Inspirations operates a cluster model, running premium large-scale bar sites near each other under complementary brands in key towns and cities in the Midlands and the North. It employs 1,000 people and its growth plans mean it will recruit a similar number again over the next three to five years.

Recently it announced plans to open a £2.5m Manahatta on Newcastle's Collingwood Street on the site of a former Allied Irish Bank, creating almost 100 jobs. It will be the group's second location in the city, joining a Banyan Bar & Kitchen on nearby Blackett Street, and is expected to open in late 2022.

KPMG's Christian Mayo and Gordons' James Fawcett advised Arc Inspirations. Paul Mann, Joshua Lodge and Sarah Hardman of Squire Patton Boggs advised BGF.

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